In addition to this class, I am taking a seminar in the journalism department called “Women and the Media.” The class is essentially twenty-four women, including the professor, and one man talking about different aspects of women as depicted in the media and written about by women in the media, and we often share our personal experiences with the topic. On Tuesday 2/21, our topic was race, and many of my classmates, including myself, ended up sharing our various experiences with passing. So while reading the articles this week, I was connecting these theoretical academic pieces to my classmates’ real-life experiences, and I was especially thrilled to read Amy Robinson’s piece because it connected passing in relation to race and sexuality. The notion of tying sexuality to race is something I hadn’t thought about before, until Robinson said, “To equate race and sexuality as objects of recognition is not only to acquiesce to a gendered field of vision but also to accept an analogy predicated on the manifest “truth” of race as a self-evident object of knowledge” (Robinson 718).
While these readings are meant to inform the viewing of the feature, I found myself connecting these readings to a previous feature more than I have in this course thus far. With Robinson’s article, I found myself thinking about Johnny Guitar and how this relates to the perception of Vienna and Emma’s sexualities. Due to Vienna discussing her past romances as well as what we see of her romance with Johnny Guitar, she is presumably straight, but based on her outfit choices and her haircut, and how those choices would have been perceived in the 1950’s when this film was made, she might otherwise have been assumed to be a lesbian. But while Emma is in fact mostly wearing dresses and skirts throughout the film, the fact that she is living and working with her brother and does not in fact have a man in her life as far as we know, her terse, more masculine personality might cause viewers to assume she is a lesbian, which cannot be confirmed nor denied.